I had an interesting conversation with a prospective client yesterday as part of my day job.
Their IT service vendors are unable to meet some of their requirements for staffing IT delivery projects at present, because the suspension of fast-track visa processing means that they cannot quickly bring any new resources into the USA from elsewhere in the world.
This seems to be happening all over the place, from other conversations i have held this week with work colleagues. Fast Track visa processing is on hold, and renewals of current visas are being denied. I know of one IT consultant at one of my previous clients whose H1B visa expires in August and is not being renewed, so he is going to have to move his family back to India and go back there in August to find work.
Now, I know that some people are sitting there thinking “good, that means more jobs for US workers”, but it’s not as simple as that. There are two factors that work together to make this a significant issue
1. Right now, the bench for some IT skills in the USA is weak to non-existent. A lot (and I mean a LOT) of experienced IT people are currently retiring, they are part of the Baby Boomer generation. Many of them are genuinely old enough and have enough money in the bank to retire, and a lot of them are burned out and ground down by 10+ years of slash-and-burn by IT departments. The retiring people have 20-30 or more years of experience, and they will not be easy to replace. Anecdotally, I have around 220 names on my Skype Contacts list internally. I know of at least 3 people who have retired in the last 9 months off of that list. While retirements might improve my job security, the current SNAFUs on immigration and visa processing will negatively impact corporations in the USA. There aren’t the people out there in a working age bracket ready to step in and provide help.
2. The commodity mindset for IT services is well-established, even for people-based delivery. Corporations have been buying on price for a while. If the Indian “pure plays”, who currently have tens of thousands of people here in the USA on (mostly) H1b visas, run into visa issues, they will go to Plan B. Plan B will consist of them moving most of those people back to India, from which they will still hire them out to US corporations, only this time cheaper. The corporations will bite. Hell, they would hire penguins in Antarctica if it looked like a good deal.
(2) has negative consequences that go beyond the non-re-appearance of IT jobs. The people who leave the USA , who were all employed and paying taxes and spending money, will no longer be doing either, so the GDP and tax revenues of the USA will be impacted, as will service industry businesses.


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